Let me explain something to you. I know nothing about growing things. I rely on the expertise of others and my own failed experimentation. But I love flowers and greenery and pretty things, and I want my home surrounded with them. My grandfather had flower beds and rose bushes and huge vegetable gardens covering his yard, and his thumb is greener than anyone’s I know. Me? I have a black thumb. Nothing survives my hand. But I try.
So today I took advantage of being home without my babies and went outside to work on clearing out dead flower pots on my front stoop and uprooting withered plants under the deck. It was beautiful outside and I needed my vitamin D fix. As I walked out the door with my bucket and spade and gardening gloves, I told myself, “Self, go easy. Remember you just had treatment. You are tired. Don’t expect to do all this in one fell swoop.” Heh. I barely made a dent.
Oh, y’all, it was a sight. Me out there tugging and pulling with so little strength that I don’t know how many times I pulled and fell flat on my behind empty-handed. At one point, I sat and cried, and all I could think was how I didn’t even know what I was doing. I don’t have the right tools for the job. Our deck is not small and there’s a lot of undergrowth and the job seems impossible to tackle especially with my limited strength. I wanted to stomp and kick and pitch a hissy fit and scream and ask why things have to be so hard. Instead I started to laugh at myself and the picture I must be for the neighbors, sitting in my pile of dead leaves and grass, bawling my head off, my crazy curls blowing so furiously that I ended up looking like Doc from Back To The Future.
But you know what? As crazy as this might sound, it felt good. I felt alive. I was breathing in fresh air and feeling warmth on my skin. And I thought about how our lives are like this. How I need the Gardener to come in and prune so that growth can happen! Far different from my crazy attack at my deck’s undergrowth, God isn’t up in Heaven chopping away the ugliness in my life and laughing maniacally. He’s pruning lovingly. He’s cutting back branches so that I can grow more and bear more fruit. And it’s painful. Not just for me, but for Him, too. His hands are being nicked by the thorns of my life as he pulls them away. But He hurts with me in my pain, so that I may become more beautiful, and in turn He will receive greater glory. Because it all points to Him. The fruit we bear would dry up if it weren’t for the vine from which we find our life flow.
I listened to a sermon yesterday on abiding. Becoming. How when we abide, we become. It’s from the church we visited in Nashville with our friends, Josh & Kristin, and if you have the time, I’d encourage you to listen to it. This is one of the many things that struck me…
“Jesus is serious about the ethic of abiding, and we abide because He loves us so abundantly, so perfectly… Why would you not abide in Jesus? Where would you rather go and abide than in Jesus? Answer that question honestly, because there is an answer. There are places we go and say, “I’m going to go abide over here because it feels safer and easier and more pleasurable.” (~Jeff Helton)
I have so many places I go other than Jesus… my family, my friends, my to-do list, my self-pity, my hobbies, my mindless entertainment.
Oh, how I long to abide! How I long to be so consumed with Him that it shapes and forms every facet of how I live! How I ache to bear His fruit so that the Vine receives the glory! And as hard and painful and brutal as the past 18 months of my life have been, how I am thankful that my Gardener has lovingly brought out those pruning shears and molded and shaped my branches!
Yes, there are days like today where I wonder if I am going insane, but then I see how He is teaching me even in these moments, and I realize I’m not crazy after all.